Case study

Internship in Thailand — Faith Nelson

To see whether travelling and teaching was for her Faith did a four-month internship with Premier TEFL

When did you undertake the placement and how long did it last?

The placement started in October and finished in February 2018, it was just the right amount of time to figure out whether Thailand was for me. In four months you can have a lot of mixed emotions, the first month goes incredibly fast and you get swept up in the Thai culture. The second and third month you start to figure things out and start making opinions on things you like and dislike and the fourth month is when you make the most of your time left and decide if you want to stay or come back.

How did you choose your internship abroad?

As mentioned above, I researched heavily in to which company seemed the most reliable and had the best package. Going half way around the world, you need the security and reassurance you'll be looked after and that things will go okay.

Since completing my undergraduate degree, I'd wanted to go to Thailand. It had been the impossible dream in many ways, the one thing you always wanted to do but thought you never probably would. I had a challenging year in 2017 and after finishing my MA I thought I'd take the plunge and just go. So naturally Thailand was my first choice.

How did you fund your internship?

I saved up initially to fly myself out to Thailand and to fund the first month, but after that the internship paid well. You can save half of your wage and still travel often and live well - the money you save can then fund any further travel after the internship. I did this and managed to afford four weeks in Cambodia and Vietnam - albeit I do enjoy a hostel, so if hotels are more your scene you probably could afford a lot less.

Tell us about the placement…

I was placed in a small rural town four hours away from Bangkok (this was ideal for weekends away) and I taught children aged 3-12 years old. Teaching younger children was so much fun and varied day to day, it could be difficult at the start as the children do like to challenge you as the teacher, but once you get to know the children and what they like and dislike things start to run smoothly. The Thai school system can change very quickly so you have to be very flexible and easy going - which is probably my biggest tip.

What were the highlights?

The biggest highlight is probably the people I met. Thai people are so friendly and would do anything to help you, it often surprised me the lengths that locals would go to make you feel more at home and welcome. I also met the most perfect travel partner who I'm returning to Thailand with in October - in this line of work you constantly meet like-minded individuals, which is just wonderful.

What were the biggest challenges?

The biggest challenge was probably the mosquitoes. They are a nightmare and love my blood, it took four months of testing every single product in 7/11 and Boots to figure out what worked. I plan to soak my clothes in DEET before my next trip.

How will the skills you developed help your career?

Having tasted travelling and teaching with this short internship, I have found myself wanting more. I used the teaching skills I developed in a recent summer school job and plan to teach in Asia for the next couple of years.

What advice would you give to others considering an international internship?

Just go for it. I think having the courage to go is the hardest part (it took me two years). When you experience what life can be like outside a regular 9-5 job, you’ll find it hard to return. Another piece of advice is to take every opportunity, be safe and sensible but say ‘Yes’ as often as possible. Embrace your time away, meet as many people as possible, have conversations with strangers, walk down new streets, visit new restaurants… it's all worth it.

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